Summertime means struggling families could skip meals warns Salvation Army

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
New research shows that 43% of parents are worried that the cost of summer holidays and/or preparing their children to go back to school after the summer holiday will put them into financial difficulty, warns The Salvation Army. In the North West of England, 57% of parents expressed this concern.

13% of parents reported being very worried they would not be able to afford essentials like food and utility bills, this rises to 16% in the North West of England.

Of those parents who were worried, when asked about their financial concern:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
  • half of all ‘worried respondents’ (50%) cited the cost of school uniforms
  • 3 in 10 (29%) of the same group said they are worried they won’t be able to afford food because they rely on free school meals during term time. In the North West of England this rises to 32%.
  • 26% of 'worried parents' in the North West of England were also concerned about taking unpaid leave. This compares to 17% of worried parents in the UK.
New research from The Salvation Army shows 3 in 10 (29%) worried they won't be able to afford foodNew research from The Salvation Army shows 3 in 10 (29%) worried they won't be able to afford food
New research from The Salvation Army shows 3 in 10 (29%) worried they won't be able to afford food

Unsurprisingly, those on the lowest incomes (less than £14,999 pa*) were most worried about falling into financial difficulty over the summer - but working parents across the UK are also struggling to make ends meet:

  • A quarter of all ‘worried parents’ in work (25%) were concerned about the cost of food over summer.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) ‘worried parents’ in work were concerned about taking unpaid leave.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Coke of The Salvation Army said: “Every year, Salvation Army officers see the strain that the summer holiday has on families as essential support like school dinners are suspended, and they also face school uniform bills for the new term.

“Despite statutory guidance for schools on affordable school uniforms, year on year we are seeing greater demand for our uniform banks with parents telling us that even ‘affordable’ uniforms are not an option if you have no money.

“The new government has the chance to rethink how public services and the welfare system can level the playing field for families marginalised by poverty; and invest in the services that will give families and children a chance to live life to the full. We’re calling on them to use the first budget to put families first so that they can get the help they need.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“However, we don’t want children to just survive summer holidays with three square meals and uniform that fits for the new term; we want them to thrive, play, explore and relax. Children being able to enjoy the summer should not be a luxury which is why The Salvation Army runs summer camps, play groups, drop-ins and other summer activities. Children get to spread their wings and struggling parents get a little but much needed break too.”

Parents across the UK were also asked what would ease the strain during the school holidays:

  • 46% said food vouchers or extra cash payments to help replace free school meals, rising to 49% in the North West of England
  • 55% want school uniforms to be more affordable, compared to 53% in the North West
  • 53% want more affordable childcare – 52% in the North West said this
  • 46% want to make sure benefits cover the cost of living, rising to 48% in the North West

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a poll commissioned by The Salvation Army by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4234 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st - 25th June 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.